☷Soldier Innovation Network addresses Army need for innovation collaboration
U.S. Army ( By Press Release office)
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David Rolen , Future Tech Scout for the 1st Special Forces Command ( Airborne ) , Col . Jay Wisham , Director of the Army Applications Laboratory at Army Futures Command and Capt . Lauren Hansen - Armendariz , Deputy Division Innovation Officer , EAGLEWERX , 101st Airborne Division ( Air Assault ) , speak on innovation during the first working group meeting of the newly formed Soldier Innovation Network . AUSTIN , Texas – Army Futures Command’s Army Applications Laboratory ( AAL ) recently launched a Soldier Innovation Network to increase internal awareness of how the Army is employing innovation across the force to solve complex problems . The network connects leaders , innovators and subject matter experts from multiple Army units and other Department of Defense entities to enable the identification of common innovation challenges , along with collaborative means of addressing them . The inaugural working group meeting of the Soldier Innovation Network took place at Austin’s Capital Factory from April 26 to 28 , and included guest speakers from SpaceX and the Autonomy Institute . The event was deliberately designed to serve as a “casual conversation with directed intent , ” said Lt . Col . Donald Spence , Operations Officer at AAL . Having a “bringing - together - the - family conversation about innovation” allowed important space for broad information - sharing as well as the organic development of desired network parameters , Spence explained . Soldier Innovation Network members gathered at the Capital Factory in downtown Austin to discuss innovation priorities and challenges . Soldier Innovation Network members gathered at the Capital Factory in downtown Austin to discuss innovation priorities and challenges . Representatives from more than 20 Army and Air Force units , located in nine different states , attended the event . Attendees included innovation - minded Soldiers and Army Civilians from the U . S . Army Combat Capabilities Development Command ( DEVCOM ) , Army National Guard , Army Reserve and multiple infantry divisions , including the 1st Special Forces Division , 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division . Air Force representatives , including from AFWERX , were also in attendance . Participants discussed their respective command priorities , projects and resources within the innovation context , delving into aspects such as activity maturity levels and areas for further capacity development . The conversation increased participant knowledge of programs , partnerships and funding available for innovation and covered topics such as evolving acquisition pathways and strategic communication strategies . In addition to providing participants with improved awareness of innovation efforts at the unit level , the event offered an opportunity to consider “what we can do as a group and bring together with common threads , ” Spence said . Network members formed breakout groups to explore key challenges in depth during the working group meeting . Many two - and three - star Army commands have their own innovation cells , and better comprehending and coordinating the distinct work of these cells – as well as overarching Army priorities – can amplify efforts while minimizing redundancies . “We laid that heat map out , ” said AAL Director Col . Jay Wisham of AAL - led efforts to identify who is doing what within the realm of Army innovation . Understanding the landscape and various players involved “helps aim the Army at common problems , ” Wisham said . These problems can vary from how to create cost - effective electromagnetic devices to how to develop anti - flammable batteries , but all require new ways of thinking and/or the skillful application of cutting - edge technologies . Leveraging innovation to overcome such challenges can save time , increase efficiency and make it easier and safer for Soldiers to do their jobs . With AAL serving as “quarterback , ” the network plans to explore creative approaches to innovation that productively challenge Army norms – an objective participants were eager to tackle . “I would like to see how the Army moves to more inclusion of the Soldiers at the tactical level in the innovation process , ” said network member David Rolen , Future Tech Scout for the 1st Special Forces Command ( Airborne ) . Rolen described the work of AAL as “a great step in the right direction , to start bringing that command influence and constant exposure” to mutual topics of interest and concern . He sees the Soldier Innovation Network is “one small part of the big fix” required to unite innovation and acquisition frameworks in a way that ensures outstanding ideas and novel tools don’t languish . Rolen appreciated the ability to workshop solutions to innovation challenges with other stakeholders , noting “we certainly couldn’t do it without the Army Applications Lab and everything they do for us . ” This dynamic opportunity for teamwork was one of AAL’s primary goals for the nascent network , which will continue to meet at steady intervals – both virtually and in - person – over the coming months . “We are a connector of a unique fashion in the U . S . Army right now , ” said Wisham , adding that cultural change in the Army – specifically a shift toward innovation as integral – depends on the ongoing participation and endorsement of numerous players . - - The Army Applications Laboratory discovers current and emergent technology , applies innovation best practices to warfighter needs and establishes a deep network with cutting - edge industry partners to accelerate technology into the hands of warfighters . Learn more about the work of the Army Applications Laboratory at https://aal . army/ .
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